Please Pass the Recipe

from one generation to the next

Dolmades, my way


I consider myself a dab hand at making dolmades. I cannot claim any advantage based on ethnicity, but I do have lots and lots of experience. I have always cooked a delicious rice filling spiked with currants and pine nuts, fragrant with dried mint and dill. The rolled vine leaf parcels are then steamed over a very low heat until tender.

Last weeks post for disappointing meat filled dolmades sparked a flurry of comments extolling the virtues of fresh vine leaves over the preserved variety. Having only ever made dolmades with the later, I felt compelled to make a batch to my tried and true formula using preserved vine leaves to reassure myself that in fact it was not the leaves that were at fault. Meanwhile, I think I may have found a source of fresh vine leaves, so in the future I’ll be able to compare the flavours and textures of fresh versus pickled.

For me the essence of success with the combination of brined vine leaves and unsalted rice filling is the capacity of the rice to absorb salt and make the leaves palatable.

These guidelines for making dolmades with vine leaves preserved in brine apply.

1. The vine leaves need to be separated, soaked in cold water and rinsed as they can be very salty.
2. Put a layer of leaves on the base of the saucepan 3-4 deep, use any very small or coarse large leaves for this. They act as a buffer to raise dolmades out of the water to prevent flavour loss, and also avoid any scorching
3. Place the filling on the underside of the leaf so when they’re rolled, the smooth glossy surface is on the outside.
4. Don’t overfill the parcels, but be sure to roll each dolma tightly.
5. Closely pack each layer of stuffed and rolled vine leaves into the pot.
6. Be liberal with the oil so the dolmades don’t stick together.

The rice filling:
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons pine nuts
2 tablespoons currants
1 cup short grained rice such as arborio
Boiling water
1 dessert spoon dried mint
1 dessert spoon finely chopped fresh dill
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil extra
Juice of 1/2 lemon
250g vine leaves preserved in brine

Heat the oil in a small pan, brown the pine nuts then remove them with a slotted spoon to some paper towel to drain. Set aside.
Add the rice to the oil and cook, stirring constantly until it looks translucent.
Add the currants and 1/2 cup of boiling water, reduce the heat and simmer until the water is absorbed, stirring frequently.
Continue adding small quantities of boiling water as it is absorbed stirring the mixture often.
After 10 minutes, when the rice is creamy, but still firm, remove it from the heat and stir in the pine nuts, herbs and a very generous grinding of fresh black pepper. Spread the rice on a tray to cool.
Prepare the vine leaves as detailed above.
Lay each leaf shiny side down, place a dessertspoon of filling at the stem end, fold in the sides then tightly roll the leaf into a cigar shape.

Line the base of a deep saucepan with a layer of 3-4 flat vine leaves. Lay the dolmades on top in firmly packed layers.
Sprinkle the lemon juice and remaining olive oil on top then add 1/2 cup of water to the pot.
Cover tightly and bring to the boil. Put a simmer mat under the pot, then reduce the heat to the lowest setting. Steam for 20 minutes.
Cool before serving.
Makes 30


About ladyredspecs

I wear two blogger hats, food and photos. My inner Melbourne kitchen, the heart of my home, is concurrently art/craft studio, workplace and sweatshop. I am a slave to my cooking passion and to my cameras. My love of good food holds me in a lifetime of bondage, as a cook, a reader, a traveller, an artist and but mostly as an eater. I feel privileged that my sixty years of experiences have mirrored both the cultural homogenization of Australian food and the digital progression of photography. While my love of food is acquired and my creations transient, the artistic genes I inherited and my photographic record permanent. These two loves are a natural yin and yang. I cooked professionally for many years but have no formal training. Simply guided by a love of eating, respect for ingredients, an abhorrence of artificial additives and a good palate, I cook instinctively applying the technical know how acquired by experience. I hope you enjoy what I share Sandra AKA ladyredspecs

19 comments on “Dolmades, my way

  1. Pingback: Lemony Pilau with Toasted Pinenuts | Please Pass the Recipe

  2. ohlidia
    February 21, 2014

    Hubby and I love these. Unfortunately, I buy them… bet they don’t come close to yours! Another of your yummy dishes to add to my list! It would be so much easier if you lived close by, don’t you think? :-)

    • ladyredspecs
      February 21, 2014

      Much easier, then I could pop by and bring you some dolmades.

  3. soupystovetop
    January 22, 2014

    Oh my gosh, one of my favourite snacks. Not something I ever thought to make myself, but this post may give me the inspiration to do so. Thanks for the recipe!

    • ladyredspecs
      January 22, 2014

      Welcome! Homemade dolmades taste so much better than those made commercially, do give them a try.😃

  4. chef mimi
    January 22, 2014

    These look perfect!

  5. Joanne T Ferguson
    January 21, 2014

    G’day! looks terrific, true!
    Your photos are mouth-watering and am now craving dolmades too!
    Cheers! Joanne

    • ladyredspecs
      January 21, 2014

      Thanks Joanne, make yourself a batch and satisfy that craving!😀

  6. Transplanted Cook
    January 21, 2014

    Looks like you’ve been successful! The filling reminds me more of Turkish dolmades with the pine nuts and currants. Looking forward to hearing all about your experiments with fresh leaves…

    • ladyredspecs
      January 21, 2014

      Ah! Interesting you define this filling as Turkish, my Greek friend claims this was his mother’s preferred filling, but then there is so much cross pollination between these cultures. Perhaps it’s a regional or familial choice which filling you put in dolmades. We find this style much tastier!

      • Transplanted Cook
        January 21, 2014

        One of my Greek friends is an “Istanbul” Greek (from a refugee family who left Turkey in the 60s) who indicates that the addition of the pine nuts and currants are generally considered Turkish. And then, many of my Turkish cookbooks have similar recipes. You are right, however, there are so many cross-overs between Greek and Turkish foods, not least the names for many dishes and ingredients. After all, most of Greece was part of the Ottoman Empire for centuries before winning independence in 1832 – and even then the northern parts (Thessaly and north) were still Ottoman until the early 20th century. It would be interesting to know which part of Greece you friend’s family originated.

  7. Leah
    January 21, 2014

    Reblogged this on The Cook Book Guru and commented:

    Earlier this month Lady Red Specs shared her dolmades from Tessa Kiros’ Falling Cloudberries and expressed her disappointment with the flavour. At the time she mentioned her wonderful vegan version and I thought it worthy of sharing them with you all to see another more flavourful version as part of our conversation about food from Falling Cloudberries. Enjoy, Leah

  8. Leah
    January 21, 2014

    yay, so happy to see this recipe. I’m going to post this onto The Cookbook Guru if you don’t mind to share with them the better option :-)

    • ladyredspecs
      January 21, 2014

      It was reassuring to make “my” dolmades, they were exactly as they should be, delicious! On reflection, I think the volume of water and the cooking time might be the problem with Tess’s recipe. XXX

      • Leah
        January 21, 2014

        ah good to know…..might be worth a repeat then? x

      • ladyredspecs
        January 22, 2014


  9. dishnthekitchen
    January 21, 2014

    I went out and bought a jar of preserved vine leaves last week…I think you inspired me ;)

    • ladyredspecs
      January 21, 2014

      I hope so, dolmades filled with rice are delicious, just be diligent separating, soaking and rinsing the leaves before you fill them. I’d love to hear how your dolmade making goes.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 807 other followers

%d bloggers like this: